Severe weather RV safety tips
Weather (and severe weather) is a part of life. When we lived in a regular ole house I paid little attention to the weather – being near Seattle, Washington it was almost always rain of some kind in the fall/winter and moderate temps in the spring/summer. It was nearly always manageable and all we really needed was a lot of layers and a decent rain jacket and umbrella.
Being on the road weather is a different story. Knowing the local weather is part of our daily routine – because severe weather could have severe impacts when you live in a house on wheels. We planned our route around the country primarily because of weather – the northern areas in the summer, the east coast in the fall and Florida/South in the winter. So far, this plan has worked in our favor and we’ve experience very little inclement weather.
We did change our plans last October to avoid Hurricane Joaquin which was slated to hit the east coast. Instead of being in New Jersey like we had originally planned, we headed inland to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania to avoid the storm. We ended up with only a rainy weekend – and enjoyed an awesome tour of Gettysburg. And South Dakota last summer was frustrating because the tornado and hail alerts seemed like a daily occurrence – but we avoided them by racing across the state and setting up camp in Minnesota.
Lately central Florida (thanks to El Nino) has been throwing us some strange and unpredictable weather – like tornados. For example, last week while we were in the Fort Myers area we knew severe thunderstorms were expected to hit Saturday night. We would have probably rerouted to be farther north for the storm, but we had a repair appointment in the area all day Saturday. We couldn’t reschedule the repair appointment – we needed our water pump replaced – and RV repair appointments are tough to find in Florida in January.
We left our repair appointment in Fort Myers around 3 p.m. and started heading north to our reserved campsite, which turned out to be a disaster. It’s a long story – but the private campground where we planned to stay at was crowded, flooded, muddy and was too small for our trailer. It wouldn’t have worked – not even a little. So we scrambled to find another spot and thankfully ended up finding an opening at Sun-n-Fun RV resort up near Sarasota. More expensive than we usually pay for a spot, it was a gravel spot (no mud or flooding potential) and I knew it was a well populated park with lots of services and buildings. We ended up setting up camp in the dark (something we never do) and spent the night playing in the heated pool and relaxing in the family hot tub knowing the rain/storm would start around 2 a.m.
I went to bed earlier than usual because I was expecting the storm. At around 1 a.m. I was woken up by a Tornado Watch alert on my phone. A tornado watch means there is a strong probability of a tornado but one hasn’t formed yet – I stayed up and monitored the storm after that. Around 2:40 a.m. the wind had picked up and I pulled the kids into bed with me.